Wednesday 29 January 2020

Cahill and Luiz to give depleted Blues defensive boost for final

Robin Scott-Elliot

Chelsea expect to have Gary Cahill and David Luiz fit to occupy the centre of their defence for the Champions League final in Munich, but the make-up of their midfield will prove more problematic for Roberto di Matteo in the wake of the suspension of Ramires and Raul Meireles.

Cahill pulled a hamstring after only 12 minutes in the Nou Camp in Tuesday night's 2-2 draw and has three weeks to recover in time for the May 19 final.

The club are waiting on the results of a scan on Cahill, but Di Matteo has already suggested the England centre-half will be ready for Munich. Luiz has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, but played in all the Champions League games ahead of Barcelona.

With Branislav Ivanovic's silly booking ruling him out of the final it leaves Jose Bosingwa, who shone after replacing Cahill, favourite to take the right-back slot. Should either Cahill or Luiz fail to recover, Bosingwa would be the likely choice at centre-half; should neither recover, Paulo Ferreira would be pressed into service with Michael Essien a contender to plug gaps at the back if the worst-case scenario comes to pass.

Ramires and Meireles have been regular midfield fixtures alongside Frank Lampard in the Champions League. Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou look most likely to fill in, with Essien or Oriol Romeu other possible options.

John Terry's absence may be most keenly felt in Munich, but Ramires will be missed too.

The Brazilian has grown into his role and he, and to a lesser extent Meireles, offer crucial dynamism in midfield to make up for Lampard's inevitable slowing down. (© Independent News Service)

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